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Wind farm vs. road issues

Shady Oaks and Lee County at odds over repairs

COMPTON – Construction of wind farms puts a strain on country roads, so companies are usually required to fix them after they’re done using them.

That was the case with the Shady Oaks wind farm near Lee County’s village of Compton, but a Brooklyn Township official is unhappy with the result.

In May, Goldwind USA, a subsidiary of a Chinese company, completed a 72-turbine wind farm in the township. Since, it has blacktopped some of the roads it used.

But Brooklyn Township trustee Wesley Englehart said the company needs to make at least $620,000 more in improvements to township roads and bridges.

He said the township’s lawyer is working on the situation and that Goldwind has nearly $1 million in an escrow account to deal with such problems.

In one instance, Englehart said, the company must replace a big box culvert for $130,000 on a road it used for the wind farm’s construction. In other cases, Goldwind should improve roads that its trucks weren’t supposed to use but did anyway, he said.

Colin Mahoney, a spokesman for Goldwind, wouldn’t get into details, but he said his company’s discussions with the township were ongoing.

“We have already completed the vast majority of repairs and are continuing discussions on any additional items,” Mahoney said in an email. “We will continue to work with the township to ensure that our obligations are met under the road agreement.”

Englehart said the company’s contractor blacktopped over a bridge, although that wasn’t supposed to be done over concrete. A crew later removed the blacktop, but created big grooves in the concrete, leaving spaces for ice to enter, which could impact the entire structure, he said.

The contractor also blacktopped a gravel road without putting in the proper base, Englehart said. The road would probably break up next spring, he said.

“It’ll be a hell of a mess,” he said.

Englehart said it’s been frustrating getting answers from Goldwind.

“You’re trying to deal with people in Chicago who refuse to answer phones,” he said.

Five of the turbines are on Englehart’s farm.

The Lee County Highway Department also dealt with Goldwind, but the project only affected about 600 feet of county roads, county engineer Dave Anderson said.

“We have fairly limited involvement,” he said.

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